NSW won’t be letting Delta rip

By | July 9, 2021

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has strongly rejected suggestions the state may allow the Delta strain to circulate in the community.

During a press conference on Friday, Ms Berejiklian said no country in the world was living with the covid virus with only a 9 per cent vaccination rate.

“Do not think that the NSW government thinks we can live with this when our rate of vaccination is only at 9 per cent,” she told reporters.

She said no one in her position would subject thousands of people to the consequences of allowing the virus to circulate freely in the community.

“No state or nation or any country on the planet can live with the Delta variant when our vaccination rates are so low,” she said.

“If we chose to live with this while the rates of vaccinations are at 9 per cent, we will see thousands and thousands of hospitalisations and deaths.”

She also noted the economic impact, even if restrictions were lifted.

“The economic impact will be devastating because if you think you can live with this and it goes wild in the community, nobody will be going to a restaurant or a bar when there are thousands and thousands of cases, thousands of deaths, no-one will want to leave their home,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian claimed that businesses “would much prefer, and that is the feedback to us, would much prefer we stayed in lockdown until we need to so that we can have confidence that once we come out of lockdown, not only can we be assured of our health safety but also be assured of economics and business continuity”.

She stressed restrictions in Greater Sydney could not be lifted until there were zero or close to zero cases.

“We need to get as close to the zero number as possible before we open up,” she said.

“Until we get those vaccination rates higher, we do not have the luxury of considering living with this virus. We don’t have that as an option.”

NSW recorded 44 covid cases on Friday and tighter restrictions were announced for those already under lockdown, including a 10km limit for exercise.

It comes after speculation NSW was considering abandoning its “zero covid” goal and accepting the Delta strain will circulate in the community.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday morning that senior ministers acknowledged the state had reached a “fork in the road” and must choose between lockdown or elimination.

“What has become clear is we have reached a fork in the road,” one unnamed minister told the newspaper.

“We have to decide whether we accept a lockdown so that we get cases down to zero or whether we do what no other state has done and accept the virus will circulate in the community.”

Another minister told the newspaper that one concern was that people were not as diligent about staying home this time around because they “look to overseas, and they don’t see people in body bags like they did last year”.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday that vaccination was the key to beating Delta, which she described as a “game changer”.

Hours later, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced 300,000 extra vaccines would be fast-tracked to southwestern Sydney.

Medical experts have warned against letting the Delta Covid-19 variant “run riot” as police crack down on Sydney’s hotspot locations.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) boss Omar Khorshid warned there was “no alternative to elimination for NSW”, and that “nowhere in the world has any community been able to live with Delta without very significant levels of vaccination”.

Infectious diseass expert Professor Sanjaya Senanayake also told Today on Friday he had grave concerns about supposed plans to abandon the zero transmission policy for combating the virus.

“Only about eight per cent of the population is fully vaccinated and about a quarter have received one dose of vaccine,” he said.

“Letting this particular strain run riot would not be a good idea.”

A squad of 100 police officers marched on southwest Sydney Friday morning in what the government is labelling a “high-visibility” operation.

Mounted police, PolAir and the dog squad patrolled areas near Bankstown, Canterbury and Lakemba after NSW recorded 38 cases of locally transmitted Covid-19 on Thursday.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Mal Lanyon said the circumstances of the current outbreak called for strong action.

“We have seen over the past two weeks this strain is incredibly virulent – it can go anywhere and go there very quickly – so we need to be ahead of it,” he said.

“Our police will be targeting the people who think the rules don’t apply to them. Those people are putting everyone’s lives at risk, including their own families.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Thursday said the 38 new cases of community transmission were “too high”, and blamed people visiting extended family for spreading the virus in household settings.

The premier would also not guarantee the lockdown would end next Friday.

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